Imago. Zeitschrift für die Anwendung der Psychoanalyse auf die Geisteswissenschaften

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Following the launch of Jahrbuch für Psychoanalyse and Zentralblatt für Psychoanalyse, Hugo Heller, the publisher, in 1921 created Imago, the third psychoanalytic periodical under the editorial direction of Sigmund Freud. While the two earlier publications were primarily oriented toward clinical applications and developments, Imago introduced an interdisciplinary approach to journal publishing, an approach that Freud had already tested with the series "Schriften zur angewandten Seelenkunde" (Essays on applied psychology), published by Franz Deuticke. With Imago, the concept was enlarged and expanded in periodical form.

The original title of the journal had been Eros and Psyche, but that was changed to Imago, after the name of a novel by Carl Spitteler (1845-1924). For Freud, the name was sufficiently vague to be useful to his enterprise (letter to Ernest Jones, January 14, 1912). Directed toward other than clinical ends, the journal served as a forum to introduce an experimental dialogue with neighboring fields such as anthropology, philosophy, literature, theology, and linguistics (see Freud, 1913j).

Consistent with this approach, the first part contains a contribution from two lay analysts, the editors-in-chief of the publication, Otto Rank and Hanns Sachs. This was "Entwicklung und Ansprüche der Psychoanalyse" (Development and demands of psychoanalysis), in which the authors show that the methodology of psychoanalysis, although based on concrete methods of therapy, continued to struggle, in its theoretical paradigms, with the relation between dreams and artistic, mythological, and religious fantasies. Consequently, it was necessary to test and develop the knowledge obtained through the study of dreams, neuroses, and symptom formation as part of a general science of the mind based on the unconscious. Imago was not only addressed to nonmedical lay practitioners but actively courted this target group in search of authors, thereby exposing psychoanalysis to areas of expertise outside therapy.

A number of Freud's contributions to applied psychoanalysis appeared in Imago, ranging from excerpts from Totem and Taboo in 1912 to early manuscript versions of Moses and Monotheism, which appeared in the final volume, published in Vienna in 1937.

The periodical was the product of a flourishing publishing business. Its success was based not only on the quality of content but also the number of readers. Following its transfer to the Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag (International Psychoanalytic Press), it was the largest source of income for the publisher. After the seizure of the Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag by the National Socialists in 1938, Anna Freud and otherémigré analysts succeeded in continuing publication of Imago until 1941, when it merged with the Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychanalyse.

In 1939 Hanns Sachs, seeking to perpetuate the Imago tradition in the United States, founded American Imago, which still exists. After the Second World War a number of psychoanalytic periodicals followed in the tradition of an interdisciplinary psychoanalytic journal, first introduced by Imago.

Lydia Marinelli

See also: American Imago ; Applied psychoanalysis and the interaction of psychoanalysis; First World War: The effect on the the development of psychoanalysis; Heller, Hugo; Imago Publishing Company; Internationale Zeitschrift für (ärtzliche) Psychoanalyse ; Internationaler Psychoanalytisher Verlag; Rank (Rosenfeld), Otto; Sachs, Hanns.


Freud, Sigmund. (1913j). The claims of psycho-analysis to scientific interest. SE, 13: 165.

Freud, Sigmund, and Abraham, Karl. (1965). A psychoanalytic dialogue: The letters of Sigmund Freud and Karl Abraham, 1907-1926 (Hilda C. Abraham and Ernst L. Freud, Eds.). New York: Basic Books.

Freud, Sigmund, and Binswanger, Ludwig. (2003). The Sigmund Freud-Ludwig Binswanger correspondence, 1908-1938 (Gerhard Fichtner, Ed.). New York: Other Press.

Freud, Sigmund, and Jones, Ernest. (1993). The complete correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Ernest Jones, 1908-1939 (R. Andrew Paskauskas, Ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.